SHIMLA–Chemical disasters can be traumatic in their impacts on human lives, infrastructure, assets, and ecology. A web-based Chemical Accident Information and Reporting System (CAIRS) should be developed by the department of Industries/Disaster Management Cell with the help of NIC in which common Information on hazardous chemicals, location mapping, processes, storage, handling, decontamination, accidents and the best practices, etc. are documented for future reference. This was stated by the Chief Secretary Anil Kumar Khachi while presiding over an online table-top exercise on Chemical Disasters here on Thursday.
This Tabletop Exercise on Chemical Disasters, mainly industrial ones, involving five Districts Kangra, Kullu, Solan, Sirmaur and Una is the very first initiative to test our State’s preparedness on emergencies that may arise due to industrial hazards, said he.
As the State is promoting industries, it becomes more imperative that we must be aware of the vulnerability of chemical/industrial hazards and be prepared to mitigate it. With the advent of new industries and industrial townships coming up in the State, there is a need to take cognizance of the imminent threats of chemical (industrial) disasters whose adverse impacts would encompass the entire biota, he said, adding that the provisions enumerated in the various Acts to mitigate industrial hazards need to be implemented in letter and spirit across the State. There is a need to work out better and effective institutional mechanisms, coordination and strategies for ensuring synergy in the various activities of different departments.
He said that the Bhopal Gas Disaster of 1984 ushered in global awareness on the importance of preventing chemical disasters. That incident prompted a massive change in the legislative landscape of the country, and a number of laws were therein passed, in its aftermath.
He emphasized on the need for proper data documentation about the industrial incidents in the State and a proper reporting system for chemical storage along with handling and accidents in a comprehensive common format.
Chief Secretary stressed for regular meetings of the State, District and Local Crisis Groups need to be organized to review the off-site emergency plan, monitor post-accident situation, etc. The meeting reports should be shared with the DM-Cell along with follow-up actions. There is an urgent need to enhance the capacity of the Fire Department especially those fire stations which are in the vicinity of the Industrial Pockets.
He also stressed on the inventory of specialized equipment and specialist manpower resources besides a strong institutional mechanism. We should have a strong database of resources and the database needs to be updated regularly and should be suitably integrated with the control rooms established at State and District Headquarters. He said that the State and Districts should conduct at least one full-scale mock drill for chemical accidents every year. Such exercises should be started after the Covid-19 pandemic subsides as it will enable us to test the efficacy of our plans and will provide significant inputs to improve upon the preparedness measures. He also suggested appointing a Nodal Officer to coordinate with media during such mishaps or chemical hazards.
The key stakeholders presented their status of preparedness for a chemical disaster in an industrial area. The worst-case scenarios were discussed with various key stakeholders for preparedness to early warnings and about an action plan for the management of the chemical disaster risk and strategy.
By YS.Rana: Principal Correspondent.